Web Development Reading List #126: Clever Interfaces, An Open AMP Alternative And The Art Of Slow Growth

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Anselm is a freelance front-end developer who cares about sustainable front-end experiences and ethical choices in life. He writes the WDRL, and is co-founder … More about Anselm ↬

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What’s going on in the industry? What new techniques have emerged recently? What insights, tools, tips and tricks is the web design community talking about? Anselm Hannemann is collecting everything that popped up over the last week in his web development reading list so that you don’t miss out on anything. The result is a carefully curated list of articles and resources that are worth taking a closer look at.

It’s interesting to see how user experience design advances now that we managed to understand what it means. I think artificial intelligence will become a huge part of user experience over time and that we will spend more time on developing clever integrations to third parties than developing our own “dumb” interfaces. That’s why I find it interesting to see research on how services can use unified interfaces like text messaging apps to become more intelligent. Enjoy your weekend!

Concepts & Design

  • Why reinvent everything and ship your own application when you could use a messaging app as input and output of your API instead? For example, a schedule for the next bus could be delivered to the user via a text, WhatsApp or Telegram message. The “Futures of text” article shares approaches that could be built way better as a text message service than as a standalone app. I can imagine services like a simple daily broadcast about avalanche risks that I receive via Telegram on my phone or information about the current traffic situation to be great examples where a simple text message reply could be way more useful than an app.
  • Robin Rendle wrote a lengthy but worth to read essay about “The New Web Typography”. A fine, well-written wrap-up of what we can use now, what we should consider when doing so, and what matters when you need to choose a new typeface for a project.
  • The way we approach designing with data has changed over time and is still evolving. Given the amount of designs I’ve seen using dummy data that perfectly fit its environment, it’s very important that designers start to test their designs with meaningful and random data. A good way could be the disco mode in the Pattern Lab demo, the new InVision Craft tool or the Fluid Plugin for Sketch.
Apps and services integrated into text messages. Is this the future of text?
Apps and services integrated into text messages. Is this the future of text?



Web Performance

  • Tim Kadlec and Yoav Weiss came up with a (web) standardized alternative to Google’s AMP project. They’ve started writing an early draft of a specification, but they also need your feedback on that. The goal behind it is to achieve the same that AMP wants to achieve but by using and keeping the openness of the web instead of inventing a different format. That is also the reason why it’s not called a “project” or “platform” but declared as “Content Performance Policy,” similar to a Content Security Policy that you can opt-in for as a creator.


  • You can use the <time> element to provide a machine readable date for a human date. But did you know you can also use <data> to provide such data for other phrasing content? Pretty cool to markup your products on a page with your IDs, UPC codes or other reference numbers.
  • GitHub switched from using iconfont for its icons to using SVG. The interesting part about this is how they explain the switch from a technical perspective.


  • Chrome now has an event for notificationclose that is triggered when a user closes a notification without any other action such as allow or deny. This is useful to adjust your web application with that information or just to measure how many people click those alerts away and do not get the expected experience from your web application.


Work & Life

  • Sometimes we’re too busy to pay attention to life. We tend to focus rather on looking at photos instead of on the moments themselves. We tend to call or instant message with people instead of meeting them at a place. And instead of paying attention to our surroundings and the people near us in the streets, we’re focusing on our phones.
  • Andy Budd examines the benefits and challenges of running a slow-growing business and compares them to the fast-growing start-up culture. While the challenges that fast growth and unstable company structures bring along are interesting, they also hurt the team culture and maybe even the products being built.

Going Beyond…

  • “For us it’s about providing a product that is durable and affordable that will actually last,” states Karla Gallardo, co-founder of the ethical clothing retailer Cuyana, in this article about the power of buying less by buying better. Interestingly, this corresponds with research that says it can make you happier to buy less.
  • I Documented Two Years of Travel By Painting In My Moleskine Notebook” is a lovely hand-crafted art collection created by a traveler during her visits to different places around the world. An alternative to taking thousands of photos that no one will look at afterwards anyway and a beautiful, more emotional representation of lovely places.

Travel sketchbook
Keeping a sketchbook is a much more personal way of recording your travels than taking thousands of photos. (Image credit: Missy H. Dunaway)

And with that, I’ll close for this week. If you like what I write each week, please support me with a donation or share this resource with other people. You can learn more about the costs of the project here. It’s available via email, RSS and online.

Thanks and all the best, Anselm

Further Reading

Smashing Editorial (mrn)